Anderson: Time to finally buy what Celtics are selling

Ty Anderson
November 17, 2017 - 5:58 am

David Butler II/USA Today Sports

Games in November do not matter. Steph Curry, playing through a thigh injury, ran into foul trouble way too early and could never find his groove in what finished as a 3-for-14 night from the field. The Warriors as a whole consistently found themselves on the wrong end of borderline calls. Al Horford is still average. The win over the Raptors was better. The rookie wall is going to turn Jayson Tatum into such a puddle that it’ll make Markelle Fultz shooting the ball like it’s a volleyball serve seem reasonable.

I feel like Tom Brady here, and it’s actually not because of any pliability exercises, anti-concussion water, brain teasers, or even my butt-chin. I’ve just seen and heard it all to this point in regards to acknowledging the fortunes of this Celtics team. I already know the answers to this next test coming to rain all over the latest regular-season Celtic compliment parade.

Actually, anybody that’s paid even somewhat considerable attention to the C’s meteoric rise throughout The Brad Stevens Era already knows every single detail of the litany of reasons (excuses) that’ll be said (word-vomited) to discredit an improbable victory over the Warriors. It’s the same old shtick from the same tired and routinely wrong voices. It’s just with different players and on a different day of the week.

It’s no secret that it’s infinitely easier to be forever miserable than ever give credit.

But you can credit this Celtics team without being labeled a ‘Green Teamer’ (how did that lame-ass term successfully cross the street?) or accused of drinking the Kool-Aid.

In fact, this would and should be the one situation or game that pushes you to that point.

For all of Golden State’s shortcomings in their 92-88 loss to the Celtics, there’s a Celtics happening or stat that pretty much evens it out. I can look at that 19-0 run that the Celtics went on in the third quarter and point back to their first half struggles, which featured agonizing and prolonged stretches of futility and countless uncontested shots that completely missed. (Not to mention Nick Young embarrassing you by shooting the lights out in the first quarter.) The Warriors’ big four of Curry, Durant, Green, and Thompson shot a combined 20-for-61 (32.8 percent), yeah, but Boston’s typically volume-scoring backcourt finished the night an equally frustrating 12-for-46 (26.1 percent) from the field.

In a matchup of the league’s best offense against the league’s best defense, the Green held up their end of the bargain and made the Warriors battle for every single shot. They upped their overall effort in this area once they were back within striking distance, too.

Knowing they were not going to win a shootout with the Dubs, even on a poor shooting night, the Celtics essentially leveled the playing field by asking themselves who had a better chance of winning if both teams shot the ball like hot trash. It most definitely wasn’t by design (nobody wants to miss shots), but when it happened and became a noticeable theme of the night, the Celtics clearly had a much easier time adapting than Steve Kerr and the Warriors. Just take a look at C’s guard Marcus Smart for example, who may have been the most energetic player up-and-down the floor despite an 0-for-7 shooting mark to his name. 

Opting for the physical, often uncomfortable style of a grind-it-out game, the Celtics simply forced the ultra-powerful Golden State out of their element. 

It’s the same mindset that helped a much worse Celtics team upset the Warriors at Oracle back in 2016, and why the next matchup will be even more enthralling.

But what was true then is still true, even in victory, and that’s the reality that the Celtics do not have the weapons to keep up with the Warriors. This is doubly true with Gordon Hayward on the shelf for the season, too, as we all know. But what they do have is the system to consistently make things interesting when it comes to these rare showdowns, as well as the Stevens-pumped heart and brain that leave you dying to see what this team could scheme up and try if proven worthy of a fourth-round shot at the champs.

And they looked every bit worthy, if not eager, for that opportunity on Thursday. Even with another 66 regular-season games and 12 postseason victories separating them from such a chance.

So if you’re still one of these people doubting that this Celts team is for real, I honestly do not know what to say. At this point, your denial would make you seem as rational and impartial as Charles Barkley (has any broadcaster openly-but-also-denied-hating the Celtics as much as this guy?), and your Raptors jersey and Wizards hat are in the mail.

I just hope they get to you before Curry finds out just how nice June’s weather can be.

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